America’s democracy ‘achieves higher maturity’
January 29th 2009
I had a peculiar feeling when I was watching Obama’s inauguration ceremony. My constant internal struggle was once again revived. I asked myself whether such an historic day could happen in Europe, the birthplace of democracy. Would it be possible for a British citizen of Pakistani origin, a German of Turkish parents or a French citizen of Algerian origin to be elected as the head of state? Even contemplating such a question was depressing and distressing for me.
Would it be possible in my country for a Tajik, a Hazara, an Uzbek or a Nuristani to be elected as the president of the republic? Would even the educated and enlightened vote for the best of “other” ethnic groups in Afghanistan? Amid contemplating these questions, it came to mind that it is some of these so-called educated and elites of my country who determine how I should use my native language. It pains me immensely to realize that these prejudiced forces ignore the fact that I share many ethnic, linguistic and other common characteristics with them.
The difference cannot be starker: In my country, the enlightened “other” is forced into silence, while minority Hindus and Sikhs, the original inhabitants of Afghanistan, are discriminated against. By contrast, in the United States, a competent individual, who happens to be a minority, is elevated to the highest office of the land.
Mr. President, I congratulate you and your countrymen, as well as all peace- and justice-loving people of the world, on your election. Your victory is not the pleasure of a foreign minister but the triumph of a human-rights and peace activist.